We had the good fortune of connecting with Qiurui Du and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Qiurui, why did you pursue a creative career?
To me, art is a way to tell stories and create imaginary worlds. Growing up as an introverted child, I always like to observe my surrounding environments. When I see something interesting, I immediately would picture a scenario and create a story in my head. Maybe daydreaming is not a bad thing as other people have told. To use my daily experiences as inspirations, I create corny scenarios with bright colors to bring viewers into an illusionary dimension, where reality and imagination have been combined. There are many great modern Chinese artists, such as Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, and Zhang Xiaogang. Those artists grew up in a sociality that was heavily influenced by Communism and Maoism, and the “red symbols” always play a big part in their artwork. However, I grew up after China’s “Opening and Reform policy”, my life experiences are different from those of artists. When I was 6, every child watched Sailor Moon and Japanese anime, When I was 9, PC games became a huge thing, watched TV dramas after school, and went to see movies with my grandmother every weekend. What I want to tell in my artwork is not about the nostalgia of the “Red China”, it is about the changes in Chinese pop cultures, the fun of everyday life moments that I have experienced, the colors of a fast pace society. In my 2018 solo exhibition “A Bizarre World”, Van Der Plas Gallery in New York City, I explored my childhood memories in my hometown Beijing with particular attention to social conflicts and pop cultures that were influenced by Glabalization and culture exchanges, and used acrylic to create a colorful imaginary world with black senses of humor to address social issues. No matter what, to dive into the colorful world that I create; to use art as a platform to express my ideas and tell my stories; to do something that I love. That ‘s all I want to do in my life. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It is not easy to be a full-time artist. I still remembered, When I was 7, a person asked me what I want to become in the future, and I said that I wanted to become an artist. Now, I am one. I went to Pratt Institution for fine arts painting and drawing after I finished my BFA at Parsons. In the beigining, it was quite challenge for me because of my artistic style, my understanding of art, and the academic environment. At that time, I was a little lost, I didn’t know what I want to do in the future, an illustrator or a fine artist because I got a little insecure after endless critiques. Also I wasn’t really confident about my practice and artistic choices. However, I still remembered my teach Mu Pan, who was my thesis professor in my senior year at Parsons, told me to be myself and create artwork to tell stories that I’ve experienced. No matter where I am and what I create, my artwork is like a gate, it has to open to audians to show them who I am. After some readings about Northern Chinese folk culture and research of social events, I decided to create a series of paintings about my culture background. The series of paintings “The Adventure Of Dama (Old Lady) Wang” is inspired by my childhood memories with my grandmother. I used corny scenarios with bright colors and characters, which are inspired by people I saw in Chinese memes and pop culture, to created a narrative to tell people’s stories. It is both a satire and a celebration of modern society. The solo exhibition in Able Fine Art Gallery in Seoul, Korea was a success. Then I founded E.E art group in New York. The original aim was to bring together several like-minded artists from Parsons School of Design because I wanted to create opportunities and platforms for young Asian artists to display their artworks and ideas. I believe art has no absolute authority and rules. Art’s charm lies in its diversity and infinite possibilities. So yes, now I’am a full-time artist and a part-time curator.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Now I live in Shanghai. Shanghai is a vibrant city. I am a foodie, so I will definitely take my friend to many delicious restaurants. I will take him to Xiao Tao Yuan for breakfast. I go to eat dumplings almost every morning because it is that delicious. Shanghai is also famous for its art. Beijing has 798 Art District, and Shanghai has M50 and West Bund. They are known as two famous art districts where are a lot of galleries and art spaces, and we can find a lot of exhibitions every month. The pandemic really changed people’s lives in the world. If my best friend visits me, I will stay home with him. I think that’s the best and smartest choice.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I always love to paint with acrylic and oil paints, but Marie Dormuth is the first teacher who brought me into the printmaking world. My family owns an interior design firm, printmaking are used in many aspects of soft decorations, but I had never paid attention to it. After I started learning silkscreen, I was fascinated by the creative process. When I went back to Beijing in the summer in 2018, I only found two printmaking studios in Beijing City, and printmaking still maintains an “ underground” quality in China because it is usually associated with Chinese punk underground music. For me, The spirit behind printmaking is that it against mass-production and industrial duplication because each work is different. Still, I think acrylic and oil paints are my thing, but I really thank my teach Marie Dormuth introduced me to silkscreen printing. Furthermore, I’d like to thank my friends. Ruibo, a curator who is always willing to help me to do some art stuff together, and Yuze, my best friend in New York City, who supports me unconditionally. Also My art friends from E.E (Extra Exist) Art Group, they are the best.

Website: www.duqiurui.com
Instagram: qiuruidu

Image Credits
Qiurui Du

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